A Girl On (the nature of) Fire

Rated: M

Warnings: Vague spoilers for pretty much the whole trilogy. Oh yeah, and sex. That too.

Summary: Her mother told her once that love was like fire. Katniss has spent her whole life trying not to burn. The boy with the bread changes that, and the girl on fire learns to love.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any of it's brilliant characters. I am merely borrowing them for the purpose of entertainment, and promise to return them in (mostly) pristine condition.

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

"Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable." – Bruce Lee

HGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG

Once, when father was alive and her mother was happy, Katniss asked her how she had known that she was in love. And her mother had replied, kind voice and soft eyes, that every time she had kissed him, she had felt like she was on fire. "But in a good way," she had rushed to assure Katniss, who was at that point a little bit scared and more than a little bit puzzled, "Love is a good kind of fire." And then her mother had smiled, likely at the look on Katniss's face, before she had crouched down to her level and said, the phrase that was the bane of every child's existence, "You'll understand one day." And Katniss had frowned, and her mother had smiled and ruffled her hair, and that had been the end of that discussion.

And then her father had died, and there had been no more talk of love or fire. Just her mother, barely existing; a candle extinguished and lifeless, no flame in sight.

And so, years later, when Gale had kissed her once while hunting, Katniss had been glad when she had felt no fire. It had been nice, soft and slightly wet and she had liked it, but there had been no heat like her mother had described, and Katniss had been so relieved because she never wanted to fall in love the way her mother had. That kind of love might have been beautiful when it was there, but it was evil when it was gone, and Katniss was perfectly content with never having it; perfectly content to have the sweet fondness she felt with Gale instead.

And then there is the Reaping.

And then there is Peeta.

Peeta Mellark, the boy with the bread; the boy who burnt the bread to save her. The boy who turns them into star-crossed lovers, to try and save her. The fire metaphor of Peeta Mellark is a little too close to home for Katniss.

And then they call her the girl on fire and Katniss hates it because all she is trying to do - all she has ever tried to do - is make sure she doesn't burn.

And then there are the games. Then there is Rue, and then there is the rule change.

And then there is the cave.

The cave, where she kisses him, the bleeding boy with the bread, and her stomach heats, the warmth like the fresh lit coals of a fire, not yet scorching but so ready to burst into flame.

And in that moment she forgets that this is pretend; that this is just a way for them to stay alive and is instead drawn into the feel of him; the heat of him.

But then she remembers; remembers that this is a game and that he doesn't really feel this way. Remembers that she never wanted to feel this way. And so she pushes it down, deep into herself and tries to save him; save the boy with the bread who doesn't feel the fire but wants to help her all the same.

And she succeeds, she thinks; she ignores the heat and they outsmart the Capitol and win, the star-crossed lovers from District 12, the victors of the 74th Hunger Games. And then there is Haymitch and his warning, and Snow and his lethal eyes, but it's alright because they're alive.

And there is the train, and the hollowness in his eyes, and she realizes that maybe she succeeded too well, and she hates herself, just a little bit for that because she doesn't know what to do; doesn't know how to make this better for the boy with the bread who is slipping away before her very eyes.

But there's no time for that, no time to try and navigate her own twisted feelings because then there's Gale, then there's nightmares and Peeta, then there's the victory tour, then there's rebellion.

Then there's the Quarter Quell, and the Games, and once again the boy with the bread tries to save the girl on fire.

And then there's the beach; then there's a locket and a pearl and Peeta, the boy with the bread who loves her enough that he'll die so she can live to love someone else. And she can't do anything else in that moment but kiss him, and he kisses her back and there's fire, not embers but an inferno, racing from their lips to everywhere she is touching him; chest to chest, hips to hips, his hands burning tracks through her hair.

She loves him, she realizes in that moment; loves the boy with the bread who loves her back and in that one, brief moment she is happy.

And then she loses him, loses any chance to tell him because he is taken and beaten and tortured and she is just like her mother because she breaks down; loses herself until she is nothing but ashes and sadness. And then they go rescue him and she thinks it will be alright, and it isn't because he isn't Peeta, isn't the boy with the bread whose kisses burn so good. Instead he is a stranger wearing Peeta's face who hates her and she lashes out because she can't deal. And then there's a mission, and a death, and a kiss that burns and there's Peeta, her Peeta, and for a moment and she thinks that maybe they can make it through this.

And then there is Prim (PrimPrimPrim), and there is nothing. There is Snow, and Coin, and Peeta and Gale of course, but not really, because Katniss is just gone, ashes in the wind.

And then there is a trial, and a not guilty verdict and Katniss is back home, back in 12 but still lost in her own misery. But there is still Peeta; Peeta who plants primroses, Peeta who comes and sits with her even when she can't tell him that she doesn't want to be alone, Peeta who helps her honor all the people they've lost.

Peeta, the boy with the bread that loves her.

And so, slowly but surely with Peeta's help, Katniss comes back to herself. She begins to eat again, begins to hunt again; begins to live again. She grieves for the ones she has lost, and let's herself love the ones that remain. And so, one night when the boy with the bread comes to bed to keep away her nightmares, she curls herself into his embrace and instead of drifting off to sleep, she turns her head towards him and reaches for the future she wants.

"When you kiss me," she tells him slowly, choosing her words with care, because this is the most important thing she will ever do, "it feels like fire."

He turns to her in return, his eyes puzzled but vaguely pleased, but his only response is to brush a kiss across her lips gently. He stays silent because he knows to let her continue at her own pace, and she loves him for that and so much more.

"My mother told me once," she says to him after she has gathered her courage, willing what she doesn't know how to say into her voice, "that I'd know I was in love because it would feel like fire. But a good fire," she hastens to add, because they do not have the best history with fire.

There's a moment of silence where he thinks, fills in the spaces of what she hasn't – can't - say. Then, "Yeah?" He says slowly, and it's a question and an answer all rolled into one and she reaches for him, trails her finger down the curve of his face and says, quietly, "Yeah," and lets her kiss be her real answer.

They are good at this, at kissing, but this is different. This is for them, for their eyes only and Katniss rejoices in it, delights in the heat of his mouth like she couldn't afford to before when the world was watching. This time Katniss lets nothing hold back, licks her way into his mouth and delights in the sounds he makes as he plunders hers in return, fanning the flames that have begun to burn in her core.

This time however they do not have to stop at this, and Katniss finds that desire makes her bold as she lets her hands explore the hills and valleys that is his body, familiar to see but foreign to touch. And although she has no knowledge of this act, she finds that instinct is a satisfactory teacher as each brush of her hands to the hard planes of his body elicits a new sound for her pleasure. A gasp as she explores his nipples, a harsh pant as she trails blunt nails up his thighs, a broken whisper of her name as she cups her hand around the hardness of him, steam hot and wanting even through the tough material of his sleep clothes.

However despite his clear enjoyment of her actions, Katniss finds that Peeta is clearly not satisfied with the one sided nature of the act so far, as he flips them, looming over her in a way that would be scary if it wasn't him. And then, in between kisses that burn her very soul, his hands move, unpracticed but not innocently; they have seen far too much to ever be innocent. Instead this is intent, hot and steady and Katniss revels in it as flames brush her skin as his blunt fingers rub teasingly over her nipples, dance across the smooth skin of her belly before dipping between her legs to rub teasingly at that one magic spot that makes turns the fire into an inferno.

But as wonderful as it is it isn't enough, not when she knows that it could be so much more. And so she rises over him, straddles his hips and pulls her nightgown over her head and off in one continuous movement, baring herself to his eyes. And any insecurities that might have existed at him seeing her scarred body are instantly burned away by the heat of his gaze as his throat works once, twice, before finally her name emerges, in a voice ragged with desire and heat that makes her unbearably wet. And then Katniss throws herself at him, and the next few minutes are a blur as his clothes meet their end at her hands and his mouth burns a trail over her body, leaving her inflamed.

But it still isn't enough, because the heat only makes her want more; makes her feel empty and hungry, so hungry. But this is a hunger she knows how to quench, and so she once again rises above him, takes his hardness in her hands and guides him to the entrance to that secret place in her that burns with her desire for him. And in that moment, poised on a knifes edge, ready to tip she looks at him and the moonlight makes his skin glow, like the light of a candle, and the sight is beautiful. And then she meets his eyes, reads the answering hunger there but also the restraint, the need to let this – let him – be her choice.

And so she chooses and sinks down, taking him within her, because it was always going to be him, from that moment in the cave when his kiss had burned. And now there is a new kind of burn; a pinch of pain that ebbs away quickly to be replaced with the heat of him as he stretches her, filling her like he was made for her. His hands, hot and heavy become vices on her hips as he holds back to let her adjust to him and Katniss delights in the knowledge that they will leave bruises, marks of him on her skin that she will wear with pride.

But then the heat, the hunger cry for more and Katniss is helpless to do anything but obey, lifting herself slowly up and sinking back down again, and the friction of the moment burns so good it steals her breath away. And so she does it again and again, each downward thrust an impossible pleasure of fullness and heat and each withdrawal an exquisite agony of anticipation. And for a few moments Katniss exists in a continuous limbo; alternating between the almost impossible pain of emptiness as she rises up slowly until only the tip of him is still embedded and the nearly insane pleasure that accompanied the thrust back in; the only thing that making the former bearable.

But still she wants more, and so she looks down, meets his heated gaze and gives permission. And at that something in Peeta breaks, and Katniss images it is his restraint because his eyes burn into her impossibly more, and he flips them, the movement so smooth that he never leaves her body. And then he thrusts, deep and strong, his eyes never leaving hers and she tangles her hands in his blond hair and kisses him and it burns, so good that she never wants it to end. And then they are lost, a sea of pushing and pulling and tasting and fire that builds in her in waves, scorching her until he is burned into her very nerves. And then his thrusts become ragged and his voice becomes her nothing but her name and Katniss delights in the sound because she knows what it means.

"Katniss," he says breathlessly, his breath burning her neck.

"Katniss," he says, like it's the only word in the world he remembers.

"Katniss," he says, and it's a warning and a plea.

"Peeta," she says, because she burns.

"Peeta," she says, and its yes, always yes.

And then he comes, and she feels his seed scorch her insides, and his thumb finds that little button again and heat crests within her and the girl on fire closes her eyes and lets the flames consume her.

When she finally comes back to herself she is wrapped up in Peeta, so entangled that she can barely tell where she ends and he begins. She thinks she could get used to it; she wants the opportunity to get used to it. And so she turns her head, just enough to meet his lovely eyes and Peeta looks back, strokes his hand tenderly down her cheek, his heart in his eyes, and the warmth of it dances across her very soul.

She gathers her courage, and asks, even though the answer is so clear in that gaze, "When you're with me, it feels like fire. Real or not real?"

"Real," says Peeta Mellark, the boy with the bread. And then he smiles, so tenderly and parries gently, "You love me? Real or not real?"

"Real," replies Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire.

She finally understands what her mother told her; finally, she is unafraid of fire.

He kisses her response and they burn together.

HGHGHGHGHGHG

FIN

HGHGHGHGHGHG

A/N: This was just supposed to be porn; total PWP because I couldn't pass up the chance to write fic that shamelessly used the whole "girl on fire" thing in response to sex. Apparently I am totally incapable of that because this ended up being PWC (porn with context-long, drawn out context). *Facepalm* Oh well, as always enjoy, and reviews and constructive criticism are welcome.